Consider the ongoing debate regards public access to bathrooms for gender non-conformists. We often hear of incidents where men who identify and appear as women are often shamed and chased from women’s bathrooms. There may be a solution, we could continue to segregate our public bathrooms, but in a different way. Rather than being gender focused, we could be age focused.
To the two best dads on fathers day! A day with a new meaning, now that gay men can adopt children, have children without prejudice from agencies and raise children as straight couples would. How do we celebrate this hallmark occasion now? EASY! Hallmark have released its first gay fathers day card. This comes just 4yrs after Hallmark created wedding cards for homosexual couples. This fathers day seems to have a highlight on more inclusion of the LGBTI community as President Obama has also invited two gay fathers to join him at the White House to celebrate fathers day with other fathers from across America. Where the White House recognizes both men as fathers of their child, their home state of Michigan does not, still only one parent is legally a father to the child, while the other father is not. As always with every triumph we are still reminded there is a still a long way to go to equality.
Perhaps one day when I become a father the card aisles will be filled with “my two dads” “best dads ever” cards for my children to begrudgingly buy and give me in exchange for cash. Regardless of what we think the corporate card companies may hopefully follow Hallmarks examples and begin saturating the market with similar LGBTI cards for all to purchase and distribute.
The LGBTI community is a strong influence on business on high streets and have been referred to as the “pink currency”, it is more than likely that soon we will be saturated with LGBTI themed goods in our stores to purchase on holidays along with all the other soppy, loving, congratulatory cards, gifts and ideas we purchase to explain how we feel towards each other.
The sentiment may be fake, but I for one think its nice to be included in yet another aspect of society and see being gay normalize further.
The Russian Federation outlawed openly advocating any speech “propaganda” in relation to LGBTI topics as propaganda that could damage society. In the wake of this neighboring countries now seem to be following suit. Kyrgyzstan has introduced a similar bill in parliament that would criminalize the promotion of homosexuality. Like in Russia, if passed citizens in Kyrgyzstan could face up to a year of imprisonment for advocating LGBTI issues.
Is this a new wave of anti-LGBTI sentiment, evolving into anti gay propaganda, as long as gay people keep it to themselves they are law abiding citizens?
“The sponsors of this bill define ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ as ‘sodomy, lesbianism and other forms of non-traditional sexual behavior,’” according to the organization. “They justify the amendments as necessary ‘to safeguard and protect the traditional family, human, moral, and historical values of Kyrgyz society.’”
Kyrgyzstan already has a hostile climate towards the LGBTI community and with the potential of this ‘draconian’ bill being put into effect, things look darker for the Kyrgyz LGBTI community. According to the bill those convicted of violating the law would face up to six months in prison and a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 som ($36 to $91). For repeat offenders the maximum sentence would be a year in prison and a fine of up to 6,000 som ($110).
In other ex-soviet satellites, the Ukraine considered such a bill but it was not passed, Moldova repealed a ‘gay propaganda’ law last July, a month after it was enacted and a similar bill is pending in Lithuania.
It appears the ex-soviet sphere is in a decline of human rights and equality for LGBTI communities with ever tightening restrictions on their livelihoods and social-inclusion. So far the Russian Federation has met little to no political opposition regards its law which removes certain human rights and freedoms from a minority of its population.
Will the old Soviet Union reunite under an anti-LGBTI “propaganda” law?
Roopbaan! Bangladesh’s first and only LGBTI magazine! Roopbaan essentially translates into “A Fabulous Person”, and its time for Bangladesh’s LGBTI population to speak out about how fabulous they are and how fabulous their love is. The core theme is LOVE and the magazine is named after a famous Bengali folk character who symbolizes the power of love. A poignant choice as the power of love can conquer prejudice and oppression which many LGBTI people face in their daily lives to varying degrees of severity. The publication is aimed on the community level in the hope to expose love in all its glory and joy, and to ‘normalize’ LGBTI love in the area. It can be said the magazine itself is a labor of love as it involves the input from volunteer contributors, including articles, photography and personal accounts from members of the LGBTI community. [Read more…] about Roopbaan! The Right to Love!
WHAT DO YOU KNOW? Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is short-term anti-retro viral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure. GREAT NEWS! Though how available is this new breakthrough treatment? Recently I encountered a hellish fight to get my hands on these health saving drugs and it made me ask why it was so difficult to actually get my hands on these essential drugs? Locked in the middle of the age old battle between the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies I found myself very frustrated and nervous as my 4 day emergency supply was running out and I STILL had not been able to get my prescription filled. Each pharmacy told me my insurance wont allow them to fill, and I had to get from a specialist pharmacy, i.e the pharmacy they had a contract with (nothing special about that). If I were a passive individual I wonder if I would have been able to get the drugs in time, as it happens I put up a fight and got an emergency override authorized by a doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital. As someone who grew up in the United Kingdom I was horrified by the battle for health I was forced into, there may be waves of improvement in access to medicare but the access to the medications are still somewhat turbulent. Given how important these drugs are in the fight to reduce the numbers of men being infected with HIV I would have thought they would be available in many places without struggle fight or song and dance to obtain. Then my pharmacist told me how much they cost, $2ooo average for the medication, which even though I have insurance (which I pay a tonne for) I was still kicked in the teeth one last time with a charge of $40, I guess for the paper bag from Duane Reade.
The fact is young men are at risk of HIV as surveys show they take more risks, do not understand the long term complications of living life ‘positive’. One friend of mine remarked, “I believe young gay men take risks as they did not see how destructive HIV is and was to people”. Is this the case that as a result of better medications and quality of health and life for HIV men now, younger gay men do not see visual signs of difficulty so unwittingly risk themselves. Another friend of mine who lives life positive said on the subject, “Life is much simpler negative” so even with modern drugs we should still be vigilant in reducing the numbers of negative to positive transmissions, starting with advocating for PEP, and getting it in the heads of young gay men that if they felt at risk to go and get the PEP medications asap (within 72hrs).
While Marriage Equality continues to spread over the United States of America and Europe like an unstoppable tidal wave, our African brothers and sisters are suffering a wave of anti-gay sentiment and anti-gay laws.
So why are African leaders getting away with laws that in some cases offer nothing but death as an option for being gay?
African politicians are referring to being gay as “learned” behaviors, and being gay as “disgusting” and a “genetic distortion”. The unfortunate effect of leaders using these sorts of negative descriptions for homosexuality is the uneducated populations willingly absorb these connotations and live by them as fact and absolute truth. So what is a peasant farmer in Uganda, who has no access to education, to believe. Would he question his political leaders as being right or wrong? Well the outcome here is the farmer more than likely will adopt the anti-gay rhetoric being publicized as normal by political leaders and more alarmingly spread this anti-gay sentiment and embed it in the minds of the next generation via his children and grandchildren.
The African education system is lacking also as a tool for equality, with teachers being the primary guilty party for truancy, and even if they were present full time would they teach equality in the state run classrooms? The short answer is no. Education for the most part is run by the same anti-gay politicians. So our new African generations will most likely not gain valuable equality information from school either.
So where do our new generations of Africans learn about the world, the struggle for equality and the future of societal change?
Cell phones – Africa’s cell phone use has risen to well over 650 million in recent years and is being used for many outreach activities, more noticeably and successfully as a mobile banking system (M-PESA) for the many Africans who have no where to store money or the ability to enact transactions to buy food, materials for survival. These cell phones can access Twitter, Facebook, the internet at large and as we have seen in global development, the information age has spread the societal movement and development faster than ever before. Campaigns spread around the world at incredible speeds and gain support like a typhoon, most memorable was the campaign “Kony 2012”, however ill-fated as it was we are unable to deny the incredible level of support this campaign generated in such a small space of time.
Perhaps Africa will also generate its own whirlwind of online campaigning and support in time via gay equality movements from the local civil society of Africa, and we outsiders to Africa must support, hit our like buttons, comment and create a deafening call of support that African leaders are unable to ignore, so our brothers and sisters in Africa are encouraged to continue fighting for their equal and human rights to love, be free and be who they are open and proud.
The picture below illustrates the current state of anti-gay laws on the African continent.
If at work you were exposed to a flippant potential act of inequality…… would you turn your eyes blind to LGBTI inequality? I at the time merely raised a chuckled eyebrow and let it pass. During my day I got angry as if I let the “cause” down……. beating myself up with the stonewall for not standing up against it. Now if I raised the issue there and then chances are the unwittingly innocent party would say “I am sorry I did not realize your were gay”. Am I trying to find homophobia where none exists, are we consumed with “fighting for our rights” that we forget that not every scenario is a direct attack on the LGBTI community, but more a matter of perception and communication. So did a simple act such as not disclosing information about a gay group in my work place be grounds for homophobia, not wearing a pink badge or inexperience at communicating LGBTI information?
A little background, the aforementioned potential LGBTI offender was a member of Human Resources, and its this fact that incited me to write this. Surely Human Resources should be the most inclusive, equality led proponents in our work places?
Do we expect too much from people these days in our march to equality, lets face it we still struggle to communicate with each other on a neutral level as a species. Can we really expect slip ups like this to go unnoticed or unchallenged and just mark them as another ‘whoopsie’ in communication as we fumble our way through speech with a stranger. Suffice to say I was annoyed there was an omission of “gay” in my meeting with HR and by right could report or raise it an issue. Though the question I ask myself, does it ruin my life and others? Whatever I decide I will continue living my life as an open gay man in and outside of my professional life uninhibited by others.